Modern British Art by Joseph Southall: Five sketchbook sheets, circa 1916 |





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Joseph Southall:
Five sketchbook sheets, circa 1916

Unmounted (ref: 2579)

Pencil and watercolour, 4 1/2 x 6 3/4 in. (11.4 × 17.2 cm.)

Tags: illustration Last Romantics war

Variously signed and inscribed:
‘Come Out of That’ – John Bull threatening the anti-conscriptionists
‘More Taxes for the Poor/ More Riches for the Rich’
Appeal Tribunal 30.iii.1916 – J S Taylor, Pritchett and Geo. Ryder
‘To Fight against German Militarism’, London 10.iv.1916
Sheet of Studies 22.vii.1916 – Geo. Lansbury, Hon Bertrand Russell and F.W. Jowett MP

Provenance: Estate of Mrs A.E. Southall; Mrs Elizabeth Baker ; Mr and Mrs Peyton Skipwith.

Southall came from distinguished Quaker and Chartist stock, and was involved in radical politics in Birmingham from the mid-1890s. He was an ardent pacifist, serving for many years as Chairman of the Independent Labour Party, although he was expelled from the official Labour Party for supporting a Communist against Sir Austen Chamberlain. In one of his sketchbooks for 1913 he defined what he regarded as the three greatest evils threatening Europe at the time: ‘The military system, the factory system and the clerical system. ’With the advent of war in 1914 he set about fighting these through his art, denouncing jingoism, lampooning John Bull, and caricaturing the military as well as the tribunals set up to hear the cases of conscientious objectors. Many of these satirical cartoons were published in pamphlet form, the most famous being The Obliterator (1918), which sarcastically proclaimed that it was ‘supplied impartially to all civilised Governments and has given entire satisfaction. It is guaranteed to leave nothing standing and nothing breathing’. In addition to attacking the system through pen and pencil he attended many pacifist and other left-wing meetings, always with sketchbook to hand.Whilst participating in the debate, he would quietly observe and draw those with whom he shared the platform, as in the case of the present sheet with its neat studies of George Lansbury, Bertrand Russell and F.W. Jowett. Southall’s war was a war againstWar . (For an extended account of Southall’s political and pacifist views, see George Breeze, ‘Joseph Southall and the Pursuit of Peace’, in SixtyWorks by
Joseph Southall, 1861–1944, exh. cat., Fortunoff Collection, Fine Art society, London, 2005.)

We are grateful to Peyton Skipwith for the above catalogue note.

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